A Batchelor Heights resident is feeling saddened and ashamed after discovering a defaced sign that welcomes mushroom pickers to Secwepemc territory up Lac Du Bois Road.
Bonnie Jesten was walking her dog early one morning last week when she noticed the sign was covered in large red letters saying “F— Indians.” The sign also contained white supremacist sayings “white is right” and “white power” in smaller black writing as well as the sentence “Indians have had enough.”
Seeing those words upset Jesten who said she felt compelled to take a picture of the sign and let people know about it.
“To me it was totally bad manners,” Jesten said, noting that she is not of First Nations heritage herself. “I’m upset that Canadians would act that way. I thought we were better than that.”
Jesten, however, didn’t alert the authorities or a First Nations band to the sign.
“I thought about phoning the Indian band, but I just wasn’t too sure how I could apologize to them for the behaviour of somebody who obviously isn’t Indigenous,” Jesten said.
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She did contemplate cleaning the writing off but feared causing more damage to the sign, which advises mushroom pickers and buyers, and lists four bands in the area where permits can be obtained.
Ron Ignace, chief of the Skeetchestn Band — one of the four bands listed on the sign — said he was not aware of the structure or the obscenities written on it but condemns the actions.
“That’s sick,” Ignace said of the writing. “It’s out-and-out racism.”
Ignace described actions like this as a serious concern and intends to “take a look” at the sign.
“It’s a violation of our human rights and it should be a concern for law abiding citizens throughout the country to have that kind of mentality spread around,” Ignace said.
He said he’s confident the people of Kamloops also condemn this type of mentality.
Jesten said she wants people to know that regardless of their background we all live here together and need to accept and support each other.
“To me the Indigenous people should be saying ‘Yeah, we’ve had enough,’” said Jesten. “They’ve been treated badly for decades and decades.”